Avoiding Lemons on the Car Lot Not Only Worry; Proper Insurance a Key

November 3, 2005

Auto manufacturers have rolled out the 2006 new car lines, meaning that there are some great deals out there, if consumers take the time to comparison shop and review new car guides. However, new car buyers should make certain that they have auto insurance that properly protects their sizable investments–or they may regret it.

“Take a few minutes to ensure that you truly have the auto insurance you need,” said Ron Moore, manager of product development at MetLife Auto & Home. “Surprisingly, a new car depreciates up to 30 percent during the first year, and many insurers will take a deduction for depreciation during this time. That means that a person could pay $20,000 for a vehicle, but only receive $14,000 if it is ‘totaled.’ By asking the right questions, however, you can avoid some nasty surprises, and also, find ways to save money on the insurance you’re purchasing.”

Not every insurance policy is the same, and many consumers miss out on available insurance discounts. So, before purchasing a new vehicle, ask the following questions:

* What does my auto coverage actually cover? Determine in advance the level of protection actually afforded under the terms of the policy. For example, if your new car is damaged beyond repair, will your auto insurer replace the vehicle with a new one, or take that deduction for depreciation?

* Is image everything? Certain cars look great and catch the eye, but you may end up paying more for the flair. Cars that are expensive to repair or have historically higher theft rates carry higher insurance costs. Specialty vehicles and sports cars typically cost more to insure.

* Can I use the accessories to my advantage? If your new vehicle comes equipped with such things as anti-theft/alarm devices or anti-lock brakes, you may qualify for discounts.

* Are there other discounts that I qualify for? Insurers offer discounts for a number of factors: driving record, certain safe driving courses, the number of drivers using the vehicle, low annual mileage, and whether the vehicle is kept in a garage overnight or parked on the street.

* Can my good driving record work for me? In the event of a loss, certain insurance companies will reward customers for good driving habits, by reducing your deductible for each year of loss-free driving. Make sure to ask whether your company offers it.

* How safe is the vehicle? Besides ensuring greater peace of mind, vehicles that are considered “crashworthy” usually cost less to insure.

Before making your final decision, pay a visit to www.highwaysafety.org to rate your prospective purchase.

“Also, especially after the past two hurricane seasons, it’s not a bad idea to do a quick record check for possible prior damage,” added Moore. “Some unscrupulous dealers or individuals may try to pass a vehicle off as being in better condition than it truly is. This is particularly true in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where many once-pristine vehicles suffered extensive flood damage. The vehicle’s history is available from many dealers for free, or can be obtained by securing reports from various vendors on the web.”

To get a better feel for the safety level of a prospective purchase, MetLife Auto & Home offers a free brochure called “Shopping for a Safer Car.” This 20-page booklet outlines what safety factors should be considered, to reduce the risk of death or serious injury in the event of a crash.

The brochure has been co-branded with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and is available by calling 1-800-638-5433 (MET-LIFE).

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